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  1. Offroad's Avatar
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    #1

    famous vs notorious

    Dear teachers

    Could you please helpe me differentiate between 'famous' and 'notorious'?

    Am I right in the following interpretation?

    Famous = well-known for something good
    Notorious = well-known for something bad, that oneself is not particular proud of

    Examples:
    He's become notorious for mistreating people.
    She's become famous for writing excellent novels.
    They've become famous for being late.
    I've become famous for not handing in the assignments in time.

    To my understanding, the sentences in blue are correct, whilst the red ones aren't.

    Thank you
    Last edited by Offroad; 17-Oct-2011 at 17:09.

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    #2

    Re: famous vs notorious

    "Notorious" definitely means well-known for the "wrong" reasons. But "famous" does not have to be only for "good" things. The dictionary says "usually of a favorable nature" which allows for other cases.

    Famous | Define Famous at Dictionary.com

    Also, one who is notorious could be proud of his achievements. A notorious womanizer, for example, may not feel shame for his exploits.

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    #3

    Re: famous vs notorious

    "Infamous" means more or less the same as notorious. Note that the pronunciation of "a" in "infamous" is different from the pronunciation of "a" in "famous":

    /ˈfeɪməs/
    /ˈɪnfəməs/

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    #4

    Re: famous vs notorious

    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) I am 100% confident that my answer is correct. Why? Because, of course, it is not my answer.

    (2) In the United States there is a magazine for journalists called the Columbia Journalism Review. It has a neat website, too.

    (3) One feature of the mag and the site is a column devoted to language. After all, journalists should understand what words mean.

    (4) I think that I can legally quote extensively from the column because I have given full credit to the mag. Furthermore, that column was written by Merrill Perlman. And it was apparently "published" on its website on July 5, 2011. Of course, I do not dare to
    quote all of it, just some key points:

    (a) Notorious has traditionally meant simply "well known."

    (b) But it has gained a negative connotation, as in "the notorious child-killer."

    (c) You [the journalist] can still use "notorious" to mean "famous," but make sure

    your context makes clear you are not condemning.

    (d) Notoriety is the noun. It often means simply "fame." But it is gaining more

    negative usage, too.

    (e) Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage says that "notoriety" is becoming

    associated with persons and things of "undesirable character."

    (5) Since I am not intelligent enough to link, please google these words for the

    full article:

    Almost Famous CJR Language

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: famous vs notorious

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    (a) Notorious has traditionally meant simply "well known."
    He would have been better to say 'originally'
    (b) But it has gained a negative connotation, as in "the notorious child-killer."
    Right. That is the connotation it has today.
    (c) You [the journalist] can still use "notorious" to mean "famous," but make sure your context makes clear you are not condemning.
    He may be saying this to protect the journalists from legal action - because the word is used negatively.
    Just to be absolutely sure, I went through about a dozen different dictionaries at Definitions of notorious - OneLook Dictionary Search.

    As SoothingDave said, 'notorious' means well-known for the wrong reasons, though the dictionaries have their individual ways of saying this. Check for yourselves - and forget Mr Perlman.

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    #6

    Re: famous vs notorious


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